Usually, The Great British Bake Off leaves us with nothing but a warm and fuzzy feeling inside after watching (so wholesome!) but viewers are pointing out that some of the language used on the show could be triggering for those with an Eating Disorder – specifically, judge Prue Leith's comments on calories.
Taking to Twitter following recent episodes, numerous viewers pointed out that remarks from Prue saying that the GBBO contestants had made food that was "worth the calories" might be upsetting and damaging for some. In another episode, Prue also said upon sampling a German biscuit it was "the most fattening bite you can imagine".
In response to this, and the programme's approach to diet culture in general, many viewers took to social media to air their thoughts, saying that comments such as those were impacting on how enjoyable GBBO is to watch.
"I wish Prue would behave talking about how the bakes are 'worth the calories'. Your job is to eat treats how on earth are you making it joyless!!! it’s making me sad #GBBO," one fan tweeted:
I wish Prue would behave talking about how the bakes are “worth the calories”. Your job is to eat treats how on earth are you making it joyless!!! it’s making me sad #GBBO
— Beth McColl (@imteddybless) October 19, 2021
"I'm so tired of diet culture phrases being uttered on a show that is about cake. If I hear the words 'but is it worth the calories?' again, I swear... #GBBO," another social media user added to the conversation.
While a further fan commented, "Prue, maybe don’t host a baking show if you’re going to be so obsessed with calories and things being fattening. Not a good message. #gbbo"
Prue, maybe don’t host a baking show if you’re going to be so obsessed with calories and things being fattening. Not a good message. #gbbo
— christina 🌋 (@cjekyl) October 23, 2021
However, others took a different view and defended Prue's comments, saying they had no issue with them, "Y'all actually thinking you have a right to petition that Prue not mention the word "calorie" is hilarious. She can say whatever she wants. You can absolutely stop watching if you find her word choice damaging to your sense of worth or safety. Don't take it out on her. #GBBO"
Eating disorder charity Beat have since spoken out on the show's messaging too, with Tom Quinn, Director of External Affairs, saying to the Daily Mail that Channel 4 would be wise to rethink the programme's approach to diet culture. "Mentions of calories can be triggering to people with or vulnerable to an eating disorder.
"We know from the people we support that equating food with 'good' or 'bad' moral connotations can lead to feelings of guilt and shame, and can even encourage eating disorder behaviours, and so talk of food being 'worth the calories' is very unhelpful."
Quinn added, "We estimate that 1.25 million people in the UK currently have an eating disorder, but due to the stigma that still surrounds these serious mental illnesses, this number may be even higher.
"We would strongly encourage Channel 4 to be conscious about the way food and exercise is discussed, for instance not mentioning calories or specific weights, in order to protect their audience."
Beat is the UK's leading charity dedicated to helping people with eating disorders. If you or someone you know is struggling and want to seek help, call their helpline on 0808 801 0677 or visit their website for more details.
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